Silvia’s Corner is written by Silvia Hafliger, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry. In her posts, Dr. Hafliger will discuss a wide range of mental health topics and provide useful information to patients and their families.
The Mystery of Sleep — Part 4
Sleep hygiene refers to practices and habits that help promote better quality of sleep. Here are some practical tips.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends. We should go to bed when we feel sleepy, but if we do not fall asleep within 20 minutes, try doing a calming activity such as reading or coloring. This helps to regulate our circadian rhythm.
- Eliminate light. Our brain is sensitive to light input, which suppresses the production of melatonin. Avoid using the computer or cellphone before bed.
- Keep the room cool.
- Decrease or eliminate caffeine intake in the afternoon.
- Exercise at least 4 hours before going to bed.
- Relaxation and mindfulness. Breathing, progressive relaxation and visualization are all great ways to increase relaxation.
- Schedule a time to worry. Writing our anxieties down on paper may help to clear the mind.
- Eliminate alcohol. Alcohol may initially cause sleepiness. However, once alcohol is metabolized, it can make us more alert, anxious and restless.